History on Trial: The Courts, Transitional Justice and Beyond
Wednesday, June 26, 2019, 6-7:30pm
This lecture aims at exploring the role courts play within the transitional justice processes, as well as the role scholars play within those endeavors. The role of the academics as expert witnesses in some of the most dramatic legal encounters of the 20th century will be examined, from the Nuremberg proceedings, the Eichmann case and the Frankfurt Auschwitz trial to their appearances in contemporary, particularly the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). Over a quarter of a century ago, the ICTY was founded with a mandate to prosecute war crimes perpetrators of the then-ongoing conflict in the Balkans. Rarely was an institution created amidst more ambitious expectations, yet it recently ended its mandate amidst increasingly disappointed voices. A realistic assessment of the ICTY’s record and its perception reveals both possibilities and limitations of judicial dealing with the past. Comparing the impact of the ICTY with effects of its predecessors (Nuremberg) and successors (ICC) carries the topic far beyond the Balkans. What can we expect from the courts? What do we do when they close their gates? How do we integrate their findings responsibly into the wider frame of transitional justice processes?
Vladimir Petrović is a Senior Researcher at the Institute for Contemporary History in Belgrade, and at the Pardee School for of Global Studies at Boston University. He researches mass political violence and strategies of confrontation with its legacy. He graduated history from Belgrade University and Central European University and completing his postgraduate studies at the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Amsterdam. His latest book The Emergence of Historical Forensic Expertise: Clio takes the Stand (Routledge, 2017) examines the role of historians and social scientists as expert witnesses in some of the most dramatic legal encounters of the 20th century. Petrovic was himself working in this intersection between history and law, both in the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and in the Serbian War Crimes Prosecutor’s Office. He was a recurrent lecturer at the SIT Peace and Conflict Studies Program. He published extensively on ethnic cleansing in the Balkans and coming to terms with it, as well as on the history of nonalignment during the Cold War.